Asian Aromatics – Peter’s “Letter from Bangkok”

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Peter Salisbury in Bangkok on the trail of Asian aromatics sends his “Letter from Bangkok”…


Call me cliched, but Thailand is a great place to hold a conference on the petrochemical industry in Asia.

A fantastic mix of the ultra-modern and the ancient, Land Cruisers glide past tuk-tuk taxis, and a multitude of street vendors sell delicious snacks outside gigantic shopping complexes spilling over to the brim with the latest in consumer electronics.

We are in Bangkok for the 4th Asian Aromatics and Derivatives conference, chaired by old ICIS friends, International Echem‘s John and Paul, with the former enthusiastically taking to cultural integration on our first night, joining in with some Thai dancers (by invitation, I hasten to add) at dinner.


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A quick trip to one of the night markets the next evening with ICIS Singapore’s Mahua and Roland shows that whatever talk there may be of economic downturn, commerce in the Thai capital is alive and well.

I also find out where a hefty proportion of the country’s plastics production must go, as we are innundated with offers of the latest CDs and DVDs, many suspiciously not even out in the shops in the UK.

The conference itself has been just as lively, with a number of attendees bullish on the future of the petchem industry in Asia. And with good reason, it seems. “Even if GDP in China fell from plus 10% to 5%, as much as a disaster as it would be, the number would still be enviable in the West,” I am told over and over again.

Amongst a really great line-up, standout performances go to Reliance’s Rajen Udeshi for his masterful summary of the PTA market and the surprising role that biodiesel now has to play in its growth, and Daniel de Blocq van Scheltinga who tells us that all is not lost for producers seeking finance.

Other high points have been meeting Mahua and Roland, champion barterers and lovely people to boot, and the generally kind and gentle nature of everyone in Thailand.

There is much more to say than this of course, and I will add some more to the Blog on Monday, but for now I will bid you goodbye. If you want to see more of what has been said at the conference, go to ICIS news for write-ups of Rajen and Daniel’s papers and an interview with International eChem’s Paul Hodges.

Oh, and if you are game for a laugh, check out the podcasts from the World Phenol Acetone Conference in Budapest earlier this month. Amongst some really strong presentations is one member of the ICIS Pricing Team singularly failing to crack jokes about Nicolas Anelka and what bears do in woods…

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One Response to Asian Aromatics – Peter’s “Letter from Bangkok”

  1. Ed 27 June, 2008 at 5:16 pm #

    Nice one Peter…enough of the chemical talk, what’s the night life like out there?!

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